Beauty: colored highlight love

4/27/2011 01:51:00 PM Ashley 1 Comments


I have been in love with that picture when I first saw it pop up in the Free People online catalog last year. The dusty pink and truquoise highlights have haunted me ever since then. It's something I always wanted to do, but never quite worked up the true nerve to do.

What if I hated it? Do I want to really give up my red hair? How long will it last?

All questions that taunted me.

Now, after happening upon this photo again, I'm still in love! And as luck would have it, I also found a behind the scenes photo about how they accomplished the look.


That's extensions!

While true hair extensions aren't really any easier to do then coloring your hair...I could at least perhaps try it out with those easy clip in hair pieces to at least see if I would be willing to live with it for the long term.

Hmmmm...a year of love is almost enough to push me to try it.


Beauty: Zoya Areej

4/26/2011 06:00:00 AM Ashley 2 Comments

My finger nails have been naked for about a week, so I decided to change that this past weekend. I had been wanting something that was bright pink...but my pink collection was a bit lacking. Good thing I got Zoya's Areej (I cannot even begin to pretend to know how to pronounce that) in my nail polish haul. Funny thing's not really that pink. In fact it leans a little more towards the purple side of things. Areej is from the Summertime collection and is a great creme color. Zoya describes it as:

"Soft, muted cool fuchsia pink with an opaque cream finish. A pink for when you want a bold pop of color but not something neon-bright."

It is pink...but like the description says, it's more muted. And I totally see purple undertones in it. But other than that, it's a great color. Maybe not the most unique, but it gets the job done and wears like a charm.

Indirect sunlight.

Natural sunlight.

Natural sunlight, up close.

With flash.

With flash, up close.

This is another two coats and you're good to go polish. I thought it would be too liquidy at first, but it slid on wonderfully. I'm loving this whole two coats thing. It makes for a quicker mani.

While I love this color, I know it's not for everyone. There are probably a lot of dupe colors out there and they are probably cheaper, but knowing that these polishes last for as long as they do makes it worthwhile to me. So if you're in the market for a good bright pink that isn't too bright pink, this is your girl!


Food: Nate Bakes a Cake!

4/25/2011 06:30:00 AM Ashley 2 Comments

I love to bake. I love to bake something scrumptious for us to eat after dinner, that typically ends up being exactly what the metaphorical doctor ordered. The only downside is that for the rest of the week, we have to be taunted by the remains of the dessert. There, on the kitchen counter, sits most of a cake, or most of a batch of cupcakes. It's a big downside because we are both trying to watch what we eat. As a result, I haven't exactly been baking as much as I'd like (although school is partly to blame as well).

Because of all of this, I love having a legitimate excuse to bake. That came upon us last week, with the arrival of new neighbors. After inviting them over for an introductory dinner, I broke out a recipe I had been saving up.

6-Layer Rich Chocolate Malted & Toasted Marshmallow Cake

This enormous cake is an astoundingly simple cake to make. It is a six-layer chocolate cake with two different icings. One is a malted chocolate frosting (as you can see on the outside) and the other is a roasted marshmallow icing (seen on the inside). The hardest part, honestly, is the assembly, as it requires splitting cakes in half.

I know it's not exactly pretty, but this at least gives you an idea of what's going on inside the cake. Each pair of layers is one cake that I cut in half, with the marshmallow icing in between.

I simply cannot recommend this recipe enough. Everyone who got a taste of it demanded more. The only reason it didn't all disappear within 24 hours is because of how large the cake is. All of the flavors mesh wonderfully, and the it ends up perfectly moist and light.

Find the recipe over at Sweetapolita. See the rest of my pictures here.


Life: Evil bastards...

4/23/2011 11:57:00 AM Ashley 2 Comments

...AKA squirrels. We have the bastard variety of squirrel (also known as the Gray Squirrel) that never goes away. I don't think I have ever hated an animal more in my life. Last summer we dealt with them digging in our flowers, which was enough to send me over the edge. Durring the winter they never really went away...but they are back in full force. Waving their little tails around to taunt us. While I could somewhat deal with them digging in my flowers, this time the have gone too far.

Thursday I decided to run some errands around town. No big deal right? Wrong. As I was a mere few blocks from home when I noticed an awful smell. Like someone had lit a thousand Barbies on fire. I accusingly looked around at the other cars while trying to power past the smell. Then I got home...and realized that the smell was my car and that smoke was trickling out of the driver side wheel well.


I popped the hood and quickly realized that there was a squirrels nest inside Otto the Auto.

Some squirrel had made a nest out of PLASTIC bags and they ended up falling onto the transmission!

I had checked under the hood not even a month ago...which means I better start checking a lot more. So now Otto gets to go in for a check up to make sure that those fuzzy little demon spawns haven't chewed through cables...and to clean up the burnt on plastic.

The nest...minus some plastic.

Mmmm burnt on plastic...such a wonderful smell.

Poor Otto.

Oh and to add insult to injury, they are back to digging in my pots as well as popping the heads off of my poppies.

It seems as though there is an Air Soft gun in my future...


Beauty: Zoya Earth Day promo

4/20/2011 05:29:00 PM Ashley 1 Comments

You know my new found love of Zoya polishes. You know that I have been scooping up polish with every promo they have had (minus the St. Patties day one). Well now's your chance to get discounted Zoya polishes!

They are currently running a Earth Day exchange promo where you pretty much get their polish for half price when all is said and done. You do have to buy at least 6, so keep that in mind. All that they ask is that if you have un-used and unwanted polishes in your house is that you send them to Zoya (after you get your polishes from them) so that they can dispose of them properly.

So go check out their rules, pick out 6-24 of your favorite polishes, add the code, get your new pretties and then send in your old/unwanted polishes!

It's just that simple...and really you know you want to try out some of their awesome collections and colors!


Decor: Spring candle

4/19/2011 12:27:00 PM Ashley 1 Comments

A few months ago my winter scented candles, that weren't fully used, were sent back to the candle closet. And instead of pulling out one of my many many candles that I already own, I bought a new one. Boy am I glad that I did, because I am absolutely head-over-heels in love with the smell. Plus it's in a glass container that I can totally reuse later!

The scent is Moroccan Tea from the Sprig line of candles from Nest. I actually found mine at my local Marshall's. The scent is fresh and warm...just like tea. In fact I have had moments where I have wanted to drink it...because actual tea would probably be amazing. No worries though, I haven't actually drank it.

So if you're in the market for a new candle I would recommend this in a heartbeat. I'd also recommend looking for the line at your local Marshall's and TJ Maxx. I was able to get my three wick candle for about $14...for a candle that is normally $25.


Beauty: Zoya Gemma

4/15/2011 09:06:00 AM Ashley 2 Comments

And I'm back...with a new nail color. A few days ago I was still wearing Kieko and the color was going strong...until I decided to grate some of the color off with my lemon zester. Had I not done that I probably could have gotten another good two days out of the color, which would have brought me to about 6 days of wear. Awesome stuff right there.

Last night I let Nate pick out my new nail color and he chose one from the Intimate Spring Collection. I liked the whole collection, but was only planning on getting two of the colors. Then Zoya ran a half price promo on sampler, so of course I had to get the whole collection. All of the colors are beautiful and very wearable, but the one stand out (and one color I would have gotten no matter what) was Gemma. It's this beautiful grayed down olive green, which on it's own would be a lovely color. But Zoya had to take it one step further and add a blue/purple shimmer to it, that can only really be seen in the sun. Here's what Zoya says about it:

"Light muted olive green with an overlay of blue and violet duochrome shimmer. Unique, hip and cutting-edge yet subtle enough to suit any wardrobe."

It is such a unique color, one that has already become a favorite for me and I've only had it on my nails for a day. With the pictures I did my best to capture the blue/purple, but it wasn't easy. Just know that it's there and it's wonderful.

Natural light.

Up close, natural light (you can kind of see the shimmer in the bottle).

With flash.

Up close, with flash.

Indoor, natural light (last attempt at catching the shimmer).

I will admit that I own a lot of if you couldn't tell from my summer nail haul. And I will full heartedly say that this is probably one of the most unique colors I own. I have nothing quite like it. For the green that it is, it would seem like the purple just wouldn't work. But oh it does. I find myself trying to catch a glimpse of the color in ever light that I can.

I love it so much, that I may just have to do a giveaway with it! Yes...a giveaway. I truly believe that this color should be in everyone's collection. So yeah...I'm totally going to have to put together a giveaway just for this beauty. Keep your eyes open!

What do you think of Gemma? Is it something you'd wear? Would you like to see a giveaway done with this color?


Life: Side tracked

4/14/2011 01:44:00 PM Ashley 1 Comments

Oh man, life just got a bit crazy and I got sidetracked! I'm currently out planting my pots in bright vivd colors. Which also means that I will need a new mani after watch for a new nail color! Plus...some news about what has been keeping me away.

As always, thanks for reading!


Beauty: Zoya Kieko

4/11/2011 02:44:00 PM Ashley 3 Comments

I'm back with another post about nail polish. I've been trying my hardest to keep my nails polishes and looking good. It's the looking good part that I tend to have the most problems with, as I sometimes let them keep chipping long after the color should have been removed. Amazingly though, I'm not having that problem with my Zoya nail polishes. All of them have been wearing amazingly well. I mean I was even impressed that I went as long as I did with the matte.

Today's nail color is Kieko from Zoya's Summertime collection. This collection is all creams. So no glitter or shimmer to be found and yet they are still lovely. I caved and got them because Nate pointed out that I have mostly shimmery polishes and that maybe a cream would be a nice change. Which means I just had to get three from this collect and am looking forward to getting the other two onto my nails. Kieko is described as:

"Warm, red toned dusty light purple with berry tones with an opaque cream finish. A nice alternative to pure pink or berry, especially flattering on warm skin tones."

I really like it because it's not a full on purple. It's more like if magenta and purple had a baby. It actually wears darker on the nail than it looks in the bottle, but I still enjoy the color!

Natural light.

Natural light, up close.

With flash.

With flash, up close.

The tip wear that you are seeing on my nails is because this polish is a little over 3 days old. So really...that kind of wear is pretty amazing after three days of dishes, cleaning, showering, working out and a plethora of other things. Also this is two coats and honestly...I almost could have gotten away with one, with how well it went on.

And for Zoya saying that it is a nice color on warm skin tones...I'm not hating it on my pasty skin. It's very much a fun berry pop of color for summer and a color I could easily see myself coming back to a lot.

What are your thoughts on Kieko? Something you'd wear? Have you tried Zoya polishes?


Recipe: Irish Car Bomb cupcakes

4/06/2011 08:10:00 AM Ashley 0 Comments

I know this recipe is about a month too late, but who's to say that you can't have Irish Car Bomb cupcakes year round!?

Anywho, this are cupcakes that Nate made for our St. Patties Day/finals are over party. He got the recipe from the Smitten Kitchen (such a cute blog name and definitely one you should have in your reader!).



Makes 20 to 24 cupcakes

For the Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes

1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

Ganache Filling (Updated to double it, based on many commenters suggestions — thanks!)
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 to 2 teaspoons Irish whiskey (optional)

Baileys Frosting (see Recipe Notes)
3 to 4 cups confections sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperatue
3 to 4 tablespoons Baileys (or milk, or heavy cream, or a combination thereof)

Special equipment: 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer and a piping bag (though a plastic bag with the corner snipped off will also work) -We used the large end of a metal decorating tip instead of a cookie cutter, which worked well for making a hole.

Make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners. Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Divide batter among cupcake liners, filling them 2/3 to 3/4 of the way. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, rotating them once front to back if your oven bakes unevenly, about 17 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a rack completely.

Make the filling: Chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth. (If this has not sufficiently melted the chocolate, you can return it to a double-boiler to gently melt what remains. 20 seconds in the microwave, watching carefully, will also work.) Add the butter and whiskey (if you’re using it) and stir until combined.

Fill the cupcakes: Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped (the fridge will speed this along but you must stir it every 10 minutes). Meanwhile, using your 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer, cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes. You want to go most of the way down the cupcake but not cut through the bottom — aim for 2/3 of the way. A slim spoon or grapefruit knife will help you get the center out. Those are your “tasters”. Put the ganache into a piping bag with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.

Make the frosting: Whip the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, for several minutes. You want to get it very light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time.

[This is a fantastic trick I picked up while working on the cupcakes article for Martha Stewart Living; the test kitchen chefs had found that when they added the sugar slowly, quick buttercream frostings got less grainy, and tended to require less sugar to thicken them up.]

When the frosting looks thick enough to spread, drizzle in the Baileys (or milk) and whip it until combined. If this has made the frosting too thin (it shouldn’t, but just in case) beat in another spoonful or two of powdered sugar.

Ice and decorate the cupcakes. [I used a star tip and made little "poofs" everywhere and sprinkled it with various colors of sanding sugar to keep it looking festive for New Years. I bet shaved dark and white chocolates would look gorgeous as well.]

Do ahead: You can bake the cupcakes a week or two in advance and store them, well wrapped, in the freezer. You can also fill them before you freeze them. They also keep filled — or filled and frosted — in the fridge for a day. (Longer, they will start to get stale.)


We weren't 100% happy with the ganache, we felt that we had to add more Irish whisky to even get a hint of flavor and that the ganache hardened too much. Which made the ganache come out in one bite. Next time Nate will probably try to make it softer. But other than that, they were AMAZING!

So go give them a try...cause nothing is better than an Irish Car Bomb that doesn't curdle in your mouth!


Beauty: Zoya Rica

4/04/2011 06:41:00 PM Ashley 3 Comments

Sorry for the late post. Today was an "eh" kind of day, which was topped off with a 4 hour power outage. Apparently the storms that have been hitting the mid-west found a way to take us down.

Though it was a fairly waisted day, I was able to get pictures of my current manicure! This time I used Rica, which is from the Sunshine collection. This beauty is described as:

"Warm light coral with pink and orange tones and heavy gold metallic sparkle. An alternative to flat corals for when you want to shine."

And they aren't lying. This color is all over the place. I can get all three colors just by looking at the color in different lights. This meant that it was rather difficult to get true pictures of the color. Just know that it is amazing and photos will just never do it justice. I tried to take as many pictures as possible to hopefully show all of the colors.

With flash.

With flash.

Indirect natural light.

Indirect natural light.

Natural light.

Close up natural light.

This was two coats of the polish. I could have easily done a third and it would have been perfectly opaque. I just really liked how it looked with two coats. For a glitter heavy shimmer, it went on amazingly easy. I was pleasantly surprised!

This will be a great summer color. I will be easy to pair with a lot of colors, because of all of the colors that are already built into it.

So what do you think? Is this a color you'd wear?